Shameless star Tina Malone says 'he couldn't fight anymore' as she opens up about army veteran husband's death for first time

Brookside star Tina Malone and her husband
Shameless star Tina Malone with her late husband Paul Chase -Credit:Ken McKay/ITV/REX/Shutterstock

Actress Tina Malone has opened up about her husband's death, revealing in a heartbreaking admission that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) drove him to suicide.

Paul Chase, an army veteran who served his country for a decade, passed away in March this year at the age of 41 after battling anxiety and depression in the months before. When she got a knock at the door after Paul failed to return to their Liverpool home one night, Tina, 61, said she "just knew".

In an exclusive interview with the Mirror, the Shameless star spoke for the first time about her late husband's cause of death, saying she believed in "transparency". Tina said: "I’ve not spoken about this publicly until this minute. It’s the first time I’ve said it and confirmed it. Paul did commit suicide."

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Tina, who found fame as Mo McGee in Channel 4’s Brookside and then as Mimi Maguire in Shameless, said she would "never get over it", adding: "I miss him so badly and I love him so much. One thing I know… he’s in a better place than here."

Paul, nicknamed “Chevy” by his army pals thanks to his surname, was a former member of the 22nd Regiment of the Cheshires and served in Northern Ireland, Belize, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Falklands during his career.

Speaking about the moment police came to her home to reveal the devastating news, Tina said: “Paul hadn’t come home the previous night. I heard sirens, saw flashing blue lights, and I knew."

In an interview with the Mirror, Tina Malone revealed that her army veteran husband took his own life after struggling with PTSD -Credit:Tim Merry/Daily Mirror
In an interview with the Mirror, Tina Malone revealed that her army veteran husband took his own life after struggling with PTSD -Credit:Tim Merry/Daily Mirror

Despite the 21-year age gap, Tina married Paul after falling in love in the unlikely setting of a boot camp in 2009. When she was 50, they had daughter Flame, now 10. She admitted: "If I didn’t have Flame I really wouldn’t want to be here."

Tina explained that Paul had turned to drink and drugs due to his spiralling anxiety and depression. "He felt lost, he felt useless. He couldn’t fight any more. Drugs weren’t recreational. Drink wasn’t social," she said.

Last year, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) finally published the number of suicides among military veterans for the first time, following campaigns backed by the Mirror to support veterans returning to civilian life. According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2021 – the most recent figures available – suicides by men aged 35 to 44 were almost twice as high among veterans as non-veterans, at 33.5 per 100,000, compared to 18.8.

And charities like Icarus, which helps veterans with mental health issues, are only too aware of the need for fast and effective support. Clinical director Sarah Jones said: "The sooner someone receives professional help, the better the outcome."

Paul’s PTSD was diagnosed three years ago. On May 28, his birthday, Tina will launch a foundation called Paul’s Flame, to help those in crisis. She said: "When he got drunk he’d ramble about the army and I’d tell him, ‘You have depression, you have emotional issues because of what you’ve seen’. But he’d sweep it away."

She added: "He’d say, ‘How will I get a job if I have that?’ He admitted it in the end but by then things had gone too far. This is a man who served his country. The only way I can get through is by fighting for change, addressing the issues facing veterans and soldiers, trying to help others."

Tina Malone with daughter Flame -Credit:Tim Merry/Daily Mirror
Tina Malone with daughter Flame -Credit:Tim Merry/Daily Mirror

Tina was inspired by family and friends rallying round, cooking, shopping, and helping with funeral costs. She said: "His comrades, some still serving, came to see me from all over the UK. Mrs Wilson and Mrs Reagan, from Flame’s school in Woolton, were incredible in supporting her. My priest, Fr Tim Buckley from St Mary’s, and all his staff were phenomenal with kindness and care."

Tina had just come out of Celebrity Big Brother when she met Paul at the Peak District boot camp where he was a personal trainer. "There was me, no lashes on, sweating, looking like nothing on earth… but we talked and talked," she said. "We chatted about his Army time, particularly Iraq. He didn’t know who I was, that I’d just come out of Celebrity Big Brother. We just got on."

At an end-of-camp event Tina saw him dance and knew he was special. She said: "I love a man who can move. We texted a few times and went on a date, spending the weekend in Liverpool. Thirteen days later he moved in.

"I told him, ‘I’m morbidly obese and bipolar. I’m self-obsessed, self-ab­­sorbed, opinionated, loud and brassy. If I want to make a lemon drizzle cake and watch The Sopranos at 3am, I’m going to do it.’ He just looked at me and said, ‘I’ll give it a go’."

Tina, who has a daughter Danielle, 42, and is gran to Dorothy, seven, wed Paul in a lavish Man­­chester ceremony. Before his mental health deteriorated, their life was perfect. She said: "We travelled all over the world – we swam with sharks in Hawaii, partied with the craziest people in LA."

They defied medical advice to have Flame using IVF and Tina recalled Paul being an incredible dad. "He was fun. He’d let her ride her bike down the hill without me knowing, sneak her out to McDonald’s. They’d climb trees in the woods opposite our home together," she said.

But early on she realised the impact of what he had seen in combat. She explained: "He’d concealed his PTSD, but imagine if you’ve been at war and you can’t count how many people you killed. How do you come back? He loved the Army but it left him scarred."

Paul’s work helping troubled teens dried up, and his self-worth spiralled. Tina said: "The last 12 months were hell, a rapid downward progression." He stopped going to the gym. "He was using prescription drugs and cocaine, he borrowed money and he lied. He was desperate," she said.

Tina and Paul had a brief separation, then reunited. After Paul made attempts to take his own life, he was admitted into psychiatric care in hospital, but bed pressures saw him moved out to an “under pressure” community facility.

He also received specialist help for veterans battling addiction and worked with The Block, a community interest company that supports armed forces veterans. Tina said: "They do a brilliant job, although they get no funding. If Paul felt he was getting angry or was crying, that’s where he could go."

But his mood swings caused rows, including one over money the day before he died – although they made up. Tina said: "He thought he was a drain on me, he said he was no good for me. It was awful."

One of his last acts was to make a meal for Flame. Tina recalled: "Then he kissed me, said, ‘See you later’, and went out. Hours later he was dead."

Tina Malone with husband Paul
Tina Malone with husband Paul

Paul’s funeral was attended by many army colleag­­ues. His military dress-hat was put on the flag-draped coffin and the Last Post played.

Two months on, Tina still talks to him every day. She said: "His toothbrush is still in the bathroom, his gym bag in the hall. I was honest from the outset with Flame about what happened. I didn’t want there to be any mystery about how he died. She tells me she’s seen him, in her room and in the woods where he waved at her. It might be her way of coping but it’s a comfort."

Tina is angry at the lack of support for veterans facing mental health issues. "If you have cancer or alcoholism, you know where to go. It’s not like that with mental health," she said. "One of his Army friends said to me, ‘The British Army are incredible at teaching you to be a soldier, but they don’t teach you how to be a civilian’."

She said of her Paul’s Flame charity: "I want it to shine a light on people in poverty and in crisis. The single mum who needs a new washing machine, someone who has come out of the army and needs a microwave. I saw for myself when Paul died how a community came together. Paul would be extremely proud."

For mental health support for veterans see or call Samaritans on 116123